'A full circle moment': Boone County Historical Society to unveil Fareway exhibit Saturday

Sara Jordan-Heintz
Contributing writer
A new permanent exhibit about Fareway will be unveiled by the Boone County Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its history center, 602 Story St. in Boone.

With an 83-year history, Fareway is one of the most iconic businesses in Boone. The Boone County Historical Society invites the public to its official unveiling of a new Fareway exhibit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its history center, 602 Story St. in Boone. Dubbed “Fareway Day,” food will be provided by Fareway’s grilling truck and admission is free.

This comprehensive exhibit was several years in the making and will be on permanent display. There are more than 120 photos and historical pieces, including a checkout stand, scales, grocery carts, cash registers, signs, old uniforms, vintage containers and more.

Retired Fareway President and CEO Fred Greiner spent 50 years with the company until his retirement in 2018. He helped with the planning of the exhibit.

“I want people to know how thankful Fareway is to all the customers who have supported us over all the years. … Many people have their own story to tell about working at the retail store or warehouse in Boone,” Greiner said.

On May 12, 1938, Fareway opened its first store at 624 Story St. — next door to the present site of the BCHS history center.

“It really is a full circle moment,” he said of the artifacts being on display so near the first store’s origins.

More:Fareway to fill hole left by 2019 Ogden grocery store fire

A new permanent exhibit about Fareway will be unveiled by the Boone County Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its history center, 602 Story St. in Boone.

Changes in BCHS board presidents and members, plus the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the launch of the exhibit. Fareway made a $50,000 donation five years ago, plus contributed items for the display, Greiner said.

The exhibit is located on the first floor of the history center, with some items in the main lobby and the rest in the northeast room of the first floor. 

Jeanne Wiebke, who serves as a volunteer and temporary exhibits committee chair for the BCHS, said it’s very exciting to finally showcase this collection.

“Using historical items, stories and photos from Fareway and other interested donors is the best way to tell the story of Fareway's 1938 beginning in Boone and how the company has continued to grow and thrive,” she said.

Greiner noted that Fareway experienced numerous changes in technology and in the grocery industry in the course of his half-century of employment.

“I remember using 55-gallon vinegar wooden barrels. We used to pump the vinegar for the customer. We have a display of the barrel and pump that was reconditioned,” he said. “It will give people an idea of how we used to do things before everything was bottled and you bought it off the shelf.”

A new permanent exhibit about Fareway will be unveiled by the Boone County Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its history center, 602 Story St. in Boone.

The exhibit also includes materials pertaining to the 1964 fire that destroyed the original Fareway store and warehouse.

“That pretty much forced Fareway to either close up shop or look for a new site. They ended up building a warehouse on the east side of Boone, and then they built a new store downtown with a parking ramp attached,” Greiner said. “Many people in Boone remember the fire — as it was one of the largest ever in downtown Boone.”

Visitors to the history center can also browse copies of Fareway Focus magazine dating back 40 years, view posters and even share their own memories by filling out a form, with the collected stories being used for a future book project.

“Five hundred people are employed with Boone’s Fareway store and warehouse — it’s a big asset to Boone and pretty important history,” he said.

Greiner said he would be on hand during Fareway Day to answer questions and chat with folks, along with another longtime employee, Bill Curran.

A new permanent exhibit about Fareway will be unveiled by the Boone County Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its history center, 602 Story St. in Boone.

“There’s just a lot of people in Boone, whether they’re in their 80s or 90s or teens — and in between — that have all worked for Fareway and have a story to tell,” he said.

Fareway Stores, Inc., operates 129 grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The BCHS’s history center is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To learn more, contact the organization at 515-432-1907 and info@bchsiowa.org.